Flooding is one of those natural disasters you have no control over. Watching your house get immersed in water can be traumatizing, but it’s good to note that, in most cases, all is not lost. You still have a chance to rebuild your home after the floods. Most homeowners are always anxious to get back home and do the renovations immediately after the water recedes. But you need to understand that rebuilding can take weeks, months, or even years to restore your home to how it was before.
If you want to fast-track the restoration process and seek professional services, you can visit floodandfiresolutions.com or other disaster restoration companies near you. On the other hand, if you feel like you want to do some of the rebuilding work yourself, here is a guide on how you can restore your home.
Contact Your Home Insurance Company
The first thing you should do after such a calamity is to get in touch with your home insurance provider and report the incident and damages your home sustained. The coverage you’ll receive will depend on the policy you have. Therefore, be sure to understand and review your insurance policy.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to gather evidence when making an insurance claim. That said, take photos and videos of the damages to have strong evidence to show to your insurance company and support your claim. Additionally, avoid replacing or removing damaged items without their approval.
To assess the damages, a loss adjuster will visit your home and will have to know the extent of the damages. Before they come to assess your home, mark the highest level that the flood water reached on the walls of your rooms using a pen and take photos and videos of the damage.
Wear Protective Clothing
Flood water carries harmful substances, like raw sewage, lead-based particles of paint, and other toxic chemicals. It is vital to protect yourself by wearing protective clothing. Flood water also contributes to mold spores in the atmosphere that may cause respiratory problems. That said, you should wear a half-face respirator and a mask to protect yourself from inhaling hazardous chemicals. Also, have boots and gloves on to protect yourself from debris and physical hazards.
Turn The Power And Gas Off
Before you get into the house to start clearing up, test your house’s structural strength. If you’re unsure, get help from the disaster management teams available and the various volunteer professionals who are always onsite. Afterward, get inside the house and turn off your electricity, gas, and water.
You can also consider finding a licensed electrician to check on any damage to your fittings, appliances, and internal wiring. It’s also advisable to assess the damage with the help of your insurer.
Take Everything Out
Any item soaked in water should be taken out to dry. These items include your furniture and appliances. You can also consider ripping out damaged carpets and carpet pads.
Clear out the house entirely and air your stuff. Any debris that might have been swept into your home should also be taken out. Clearing the place gives you ample space to repair the house as well.
Demolish Everything Up To The Concrete Slab Level
Sometimes the hardwood floors can withstand flooding, but in most cases, you may need to bring down the solid wood trim and wall studs to the level the water reached. It’s rare for water to go up to the ceiling level. So, you want to demolish the soaked part up to the drywall.
Once you get to the drywall, rip out a part of it and remove the insulation. It’s also essential to leave out a piece of the drywall so you can use it to show the insurers where the water levels reached.
Furthermore, check out the basement and determine if the damage is extensive. If it’s badly damaged, you may need to tear down the entire basement and start afresh. The good thing about your outside wall is that once it’s dry, it will require minimal repairs, maybe just a coat of fresh paint.
Check Out The Hidden Spots
A few hidden spaces in your home may still be holding water. These may include the kitchen cabinets, the base of the kitchen island, and drawers. If your cabinets are made of solid plywood, they won’t need demolishing since they are strong enough to withstand flooding. However, if your cabinets are built with particleboard, melamine, or pressboard, any water above two inches will destroy them. The plastic coating often swells if it comes into contact with water.
That said, consider removing your interior doors from their hinges and putting them out to dry lying flat. Avoid drying them in an upright position, as they might warp. You can also use a fan to dry them faster.
Disinfect And Thoroughly Clean Your House
To begin the process, find a hose, a broom, and a vacuum cleaner, and thoroughly clean your home. Don’t leave out any stud or slab. You can use water to clean out these surfaces as well. Just be sure to keep the water away from the drywall. You’d also want to avoid power washing because improper power washing may weaken the foundation of your walls, floor, and hard-to-reach areas.
When everything is clean and dried up, you may want to mix a bleach solution and spray it on the surfaces. As mentioned earlier, flood water carries a lot of toxic substances, and the bleach will help you kill any bacteria that may be present. As you spray the bleach, avoid spraying electrical outlets, and metallic surfaces as bleach corrodes metal. After spraying, you can put the fans on and let your home dry.
Leave The House To Dry And Ventilate
Even with the fans on, you should note that it will take a minimum of two weeks before your house is completely dry. Using a qualified restoration company might take you less, but if you are cleaning the house yourself, give your home enough time to dry. Don’t start any rebuilding work until the place is fully dry. If the weather conditions allow, you can leave the windows open.
Seek Financial Guidance
When disasters such as floods occur, regional, national, and state volunteers are mandated to help you through the recovery process. Find out from these organizations what disaster programs are available and if any state funds and loans are available to cushion you through the rebuilding costs. Usually, these volunteers also help you expedite the claims process from your insurance company.
Begin Rebuilding And Flood Proofing Your House
As you begin rebuilding, your first focus should be your safety in the future in case flooding happens again. Make home improvements that will shield you from flooding to minimize damage. You may want to involve professionals when rebuilding, like HVAC specialists who will sort your cooling and heating issues if you suspect the ducts and heat registers are adversely affected. Avoid being hasty when choosing a contractor to rebuild your house. Instead, get as many quotations as you can and compare the costs. Ensure you select a licensed firm with proof of insurance and training.
Perform An Air Test
Some people prefer living in a section of the house as they renovate the rest. Before you move into the house, conduct an air test. Flooded homes are prone to mold spores and other bacteria. These may cause skin rashes, red eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and respiratory problems. You are advised to get an air testing professional to perform an air and mold test to ascertain that the air inside the house is not contaminated with bacteria and other harmful toxins.
Protect Yourself From The Next Flood
Rebuilding your home is very costly. To cover yourself from these costs in the future, protect your property and your family by getting a family disaster plan, home inventory plan, and flood insurance cover. Check out any community protection and flood risk programs available.
What To Do If You Stay In A Flood Prone Area
If you reside in an area where floods are common occurrences, you should always be prepared. This way, at any given time, that a natural calamity comes, you’re already prepared and minimize the damages and effects it may cause. To help you, here are some steps you can follow to prepare:
- Familiarize yourself with the flood protection and evacuation procedures available in your community.
- Find out what levels the previous worst flood got to help you prepare.
- Have a ready and stocked survival kit available at all times. The kit should have supplies to last you a minimum of three days. Check inside the cover of your phonebook for Environmental Quality Control (EQC) recommendations.
- Always keep an ear out for any radio announcements on impending floods and weather conditions in your area; in case of flooding, adhere to the Civil Defence directives.
Before you commence any of the above steps, observing your state of health is essential. If you or any family member was hurt in the process, focus on nursing yourself back to health before you start thinking of rebuilding.
Before getting inside the house, ascertain the correct state of the building. Depending on the damage caused by the floods, it’s not always a guarantee that you can rebuild the house. Some homes may be unfit for living after flooding. In that case, you must make arrangements to demolish the house and start building from scratch. It may be traumatizing, but it’s better than living in a dilapidated house and putting your life in danger.
As you begin rebuilding, it may be helpful to discuss with your contractor if there are any adjustments you can make to the house to shield you from any damage in case flooding ever reoccurs. This could also be your chance to remodel your home.